Before the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year turned Tokyo into a completely different city, one used to see a very strange phenomenon: male perverts who touch, grope, and molest teenage school girls and adult women on crowded commuter trains. These people are called “chikan” (male perverts, sexual molesters), and this phenomenon was once so serious that the New York Times even reported on it and detailed how some chikan published books about how to instruct others to become chikan and work as teams. Disgusting, of course.
But now, according to news published in English on Twitter, it turns out that the Covid-19 pandemic has provided Tokyo women with “a silver lining” due to the sudden disapperance of chikan on the daily commuter trains. Sayonara, chikan!
An English-speaking man working at a major university in Japan tweeted the other day: “A Japanese female colleague working in Tokyo told me that life with Covid-19 is better for her.” He added a quote the woman sent him.
She told him in an email: “I’m very selfish to say this, but for months I have not been harassed on the Tokyo subway on the way to work (or on the way back home from work).”
When I asked a Japanese woman I knew in Tokyo, Mitsuko, she replied to me by email: “Maybe it is true because the trains are no longer so crowded. Many people work at home. And even chikan perverts don’t want to touch others.”
In 2018, when a man molesting a woman on the a commuter train was shown on a mobile phone video that went viral, people screamed bloody hell. Before the pandemic, chikan were still free to do what they wanted, but slowly the police and Tokyo officials were trying to solve the problems.
If you have never heard of this phenomenon before, here is some background: the “chikan” used to operate on the commuter trains knowing that the victims would not make any noise and would not report them to the station platform police.
In 2010, the Saikyo Line, a commuter train line known for its chikan, installed cameras to prevent future attacks. In this case, many other anti-chikan measures were taken, including a popular warning pin made by a 17-year-old high school girl.
But this year, now in 2020, considering that the Covid-19 pandemic is sweeping Tokyo, according to anecdotal evidence, the chikan have disappeared because they cannot operate on uncrowded trains now. Their cover has been blown.
Covid-19 eliminated chikan for now. Gone with the wind.
Will The New York Times report this update?